Eldee Young, the original bass player for the Ramsey Lewis Trio, has died. Young, who was 71, suffered a heart attack on Monday, Feb. 12, in Thailand, where he was performing.
It was in 1954 that Young, pianist Lewis and drummer Isaac “Red” Holt, who were high-school friends in Chicago, formed a jazz trio originally called the Gentlemen of Swing. They soon became known as the Ramsey Lewis Trio. In the mid-1960s, shortly after performing on the classic songs “The In Crowd” and “Hang on Sloopy,” Young and Holt left the trio to form Young-Holt Unlimited and scored a smash hit instrumental single in 1969 with "Soulful Strut." That famous tune was originally the backing track for soul singer Barbara Acklin's song "Am I the Same Girl."
Lewis replaced Young and Holt with bassist Cleveland Eaton and drummer Maurice White, who later formed Earth, Wind and Fire. The current Ramsey Lewis Trio lineup consists of Lewis, bassist Larry Gray and drummer Leon Joyce. The trio begins a tour on March 18 and will be performing for much of the year.
Young is survived by his wife, three sons and a sister.